A plan to build flats up to six storeys high close to a stretch of green belt land has been approved by councillors.

The decision paves the way for 362 homes to be built on the site of the former Chase Farm Hospital in The Ridgeway, with 20 per cent classed as affordable.

It is part of a Department for Education (DfE)-backed scheme that involves building a new primary and secondary school at the site.

The decision to add a secondary school to the plans meant they had to be changed to increase the density of the housing. Councillors granted outline permission for the revised scheme at a meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday, despite concerns over the proposed level of affordable housing.

Speaking on behalf of the DfE, a planning agent told the meeting: “We are optimising the use of previously developed land to deliver important social infrastructure. This is critical to the growth of the borough and will help the council to meet its housing targets.”

The agent said that because the homes were being built to cross-subsidise the construction of the schools, “the economics of the project do not support any affordable housing”.

Despite this, the applicant agreed to provide 20 per cent affordable housing – up from 14 per cent in a previously agreed planning permission, he explained.

But Cllr Daniel Anderson (Community First, Southgate Green) said: “We have a policy. What is the point in continually having meetings where we are being told we can’t meet the requirement for affordable housing?”

Cllr Anderson pointed out that 80 per cent of the affordable homes would be at intermediate rents, claiming this made them “unaffordable for the vast majority of Enfield residents”. Only four per cent would be at social rent levels – 14 out 362 properties, he added.

In response, planning officer Sean Gallagher said the application was “policy compliant”.

Mr Gallagher added: “The targets that are set forward under the policy are in effect just that – targets – and the policy states that these targets should be met unless the development can’t justify that in terms of the costs.”

Cllr Hass Yusuf (Labour, Chase) called for the “vast majority” of the affordable homes to be three- and four-bedroom units.

Mr Gallagher said that including a part of the site already built out by Linden Homes, 40 per cent of the total units would be three-and four-bedroom. He added that taking into account the larger two-bedroom units, there would be a 50-50 split between small and family-sized homes.

Under questioning from committee chairman Cllr Sinan Boztas (Labour, Lower Edmonton), the planning agent said the DfE would consider the possibility of adding more family homes when detailed planning permission is sought.

Planning officers told councillors that while the development would be visible from the green belt, the flats would be lower and less intrusive than the existing hospital buildings.

At the end of the debate, Cllr Anderson opposed the plans and Cllr Yusuf abstained. The remaining members of the committee voted in favour of the scheme.